tv The Kudlow Report CNBC December 2, 2009 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
tonight on "the kudlow report" i interview senator john mccain who rejects to president obama's afghan exit strategy, fights back on the government's health care takeover and decides he wants to tax me personally. plus, an economist marty feldstein weighs in on the outlook of our economy. and then, should fed head ben bernanke get a second term? his senate confirmation hearing is tomorrow. and a big surprise, bank of america announces it should pay back all of its $45 billion of t.a.r.p. money. tax payers should cheer. and is this another sign of our return to financial and economic health. and finally, is tiger out of the woods with his website statement today? i wanted him to do this monday, but it's never too late for an honest cleansing of the soul. fasten your seat belt, everyone. "the kudlow report" begins right now.
good evening, everyone. i'm larry kudlow. welcome back to "the kudlow report" where we believe free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity. i spoke with arizona senator john mccain. he's ranking member on the armed services committee and former republican presidential standard bearer. we talked about the obama surge and other hot topics on capitol hill. take a listen. >> i want to begin with president obama's afghan surge. his announcement last night and this morning, you went toe to toe with defense secretary robert gates on a key aspect of this issue. we're going to play it. please take a listen. >> i say with respect, secretary gates, my question is will the day to withdrawal of 2011, which the president said, be based on an arbitrary date of july 2011, regardless of conditions on the ground. >> i think it's the judgment of
all of us in the department of defense involved in this process, we will be in the position in particularly uncontested areas where we will be able to begin that transition. >> let's suppose you're not. >> let's suppose you're not. let's suppose that conditions on the ground so that our commanders believe it would jeopardize the success of the mission if we start a withdrawal july 2001. >> i'm not sure what mr. gates said, but more importantly, did you get satisfaction on this question? >> i did not, larry. but i also want to emsz i support this strategy. i think the president did the right thing. this is a counterinsurgency strategy that i have significant confidence succeed. i'm concerned about the july
2011 issue as you ran the clip. you don't want to tell your enemies when you're leaving. you want to be able to leave once you succeeded. >> i knew this was going to come up, i took a careful look at this. let me just read from president obama's west point speech on this. he is saying, the additional american and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to the afghan forces. then he goes on to say in the speech -- this is key -- and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of afghanistan on july of 2011. just as we have done in iraq, and we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. so he says it will allow us to begin to withdraw, taking account conditions on the ground. this is above my pay grade, but
it sounds to me like he's meeting your retirement. it sounds a lot like what president george w. bush said on his surge. >> well, when we did the surge, the object was to clear, hold and build. we can talk about the build part of the afghanistan scenario, which is badly lacking. and then once we had achieved that success, trained up and operated with the iraqi military, that's when we decided we can withdraw and we'll be at the iraqis' request withdrawing almost completely rather soon. that's different from sending a message to your friends and allies and your enemies that you're leaving on a date certain. we don't announce it ahead of
time because success is what breeds the ability to withdraw. >> so essentially, you would rather this whole paragraph not having in this speech? that's your basic point? >> i would rather have it not been in the speef, but i want to say the president has done the right thing. the process was protracted and dragged out and i didn't like that, but that's passed. now i want to support the president, get those troops over there as quickly as possible, stabilize this situation, and then be able to withdraw as afghan cannot only -- afghanistan stand on its feet but afghanistan will not return to a base of attacks for the united states and our allies. >> let me raise one other issue and then i want to get to health care because i know you're active in that issue, too. but in your press release today and in your statement, you expressed concern about the civilian about the clear hold and build.
president obama made it clear he had no intention of nation building and no intention of keeping us in afghanistan. i don't know for how long five years, ten years, 20 year, whatever. you've always been in favor of our national security. what's your beef with him on this point? >> i don't have a beef with him on this point. but the fact is you've got to have a secure environment in order for the political economic and other aspects of a normal existence be there. otherwise, you end up with a situation that snoobs yas soon leave, the situation deteriorates again. it's not nation building but it's establishing an environment of which the civil side is very importa important. the people will be satisfied, they have the environment where they will continue to defend
themselves and will resist radical islamic extremists. it's providing an environment that won't deteriorate right away, such as we did in the early days of vietnam and such as we did in the early days of iraq. >> so to keep the taliban out, let's say, in their own neighborhoods and towns, is that what you're saying? >> but the way they keep you out and the way you go after them, you train the afghans, operate them to make them a viable military force as well as a goth that people can trust and look up to as well as an environment where the economic situation, and that's not satisfactory to them. that leads to the stability and resistance of islamic radical extremism. >> are you afraid the president is going to pull out before the job is done? >> no, i don't think so the president will do that. i really don't. i think the president articulated an excellent policy, well resourced, supported by our great military leadership.
i'll support it and do everything i can to succeed and support him. >> just to segue into domestic issues, a lot of your senate colleagues and house colleagues on democratic side would like to raise tax, maybe across the board, but certainly for upper income people by 5% or so to pay for the afghan surge. what is your thinking on that one? >> my thinking is they never miss an opportunity to get rich people like you, larry, and i'm with them every step of the way and everybody on the show. >> i'm not as rich as i used to be. this has been a very bad downturn, sir. >> if we had just frozen discriminatory spending at last year's level, okay, at last year's level, we could save about $60 billion to $80
billion. if we had all our appropriations bills frozen at last year's level that would have been plenty to fund troops going to afghanistan certainly for the rest of this year. i would love to find those projects earmarked pork barrel corruption in this process and i could find them lots of money. >> i would love to see that exercise. i think that would be a real treat. let me ask you about health care. you're very active in the health care, and there's a new story out today. resubmit the spending care cuts to restore them in committee and also start going after the tax hikes. some of these estimates now, $3 trillion in spending between now and, what, 2020 according to some of the estimates from senator judd gregg. that's going to be close to $1 trillion in tax increases. >> the first thing we can do is
send this back to the finance committee and tell them not to cut medicare. there's savings in medicare and malpractice. to say you're going to have a draconian across the board cuts of $483 billion doesn't work. for the first four year, you pate tacks, you lose the benefits and then after four years, the benefits kick in. okay, i'm going to make payments for four years before i can move in? that's crazy stuff because it's a budgetary gimmick. >> can you beat it? >> one thing about senior citizens, all citizens are more aware than we give them credit for. senior citizens are far, far
sophisticated. they know what happens if medicare is cut. i hear from people every day that say look, i paid into medicare all my life. you're going to take it away from me now? you can not make these kinds of cuts in medicare without eventually rationing medicare and reducing the benefits. it's just a fact. and it's going broke anyway, as you know. so they're taking $483 billion out of medicare to fund a new entitlement program. >> can we get out of that meeting without further bankrupting this country? what should we do to help create jobs. >> a lady came to a town hall meeting that i had with two
children and was thrown out of heifer house and couldn't get an extension of credit. i would like to have some of those people fly in. i tell you, one thing they would tell the president, they would tell the president, let's get small business going again. let's give them a payroll tax cut. let's have corporate tax cuts. let's do things that really create jobs, rather than all these so-called stimulus projects which really have met predictions that his economists and he predicted when we passed that massive stimulus bill. and they know that their kids' -- that uh we're committing generational theft. >> thanks for coming back. it's all the best. >> thank you. and it's your taxes i'm going to raise, larry. >> john, you are the best. all right, many thanks to senator john maccaccain who's ry rolling strong. coming up, marty feldstein is going to weigh in on the jobs summit and the outlook of the economy. xxxxxxxxxxxx
>> dr. marty feldstein was chairman of the council of the economic advisers under president reagan where i first met him when i was a young deputy at the office of management and budget. it's an honor hov you on "the scud low report." >> good to be with you. >> i want to get your thinking on the jobs summit tomorrow. but before we get there, first your assessment of the economy, the fed's beige book came out today. better consumer spending, more profitable businesses. are we in an economic recovery in your judgment? >> well, i think it's too soon to tell whether this is a sustained upturn. and that's what an economic recovery is. we had a good quarter in the third quarter. half of that upturn, half of that 2.8% growth was just motor vehicle production, because of cash for clunkers.
and the other half was how housing construction and government spending. i'm concerned this could lose momentum and we will not see a solid recover prip. >> you still have that worry with all the federal reserve, stimulus, they obviously created a lot of new money, the balance sheet. christy romer touted the fiscal stimulus plan. you're not even sure we're recovering, is that what you're saying? >> that's right. it's clear the gdp rose in the third quarter. it will rise again in the fourth, the question is what happens next year. the fiscal stimulus has been expanding. it went from nothing in the first quarter to running rate of about $300 billion. but it's gotten there and it's no longer expanding.
and so the danger is that with other things pulling the economy down, and with fiscal policy just coasting along at a flat rate, we don't have the ability to offset things like declining state spending or worse bing trade deficits. or declines and fixed business investment. i think there are real risks to the economy going forward. >> a lot of investment gurus and what not, they say the stock market has had a great recovery. it's up 65% from the early march lows. the credit and bond markets have had a good recovery. some good news today. bank of america is going to pay down its whole $45 billion in t.a.r.p. thab that's a sign of financial health. in other words, if these money and financial and credit markets are recovering. are they not precursors to a
generalized economic recovery? >> this business cycle is different from previous business cycles. they were basically interest rate drivens. this recovery to the extent we have one is being driven by fiscal policy more than anything else. and that's going to stop expanding when we get to 2010. and that's the real risk. >> regarding the white house jobs summit tomorrow, we've got a lot of ceos coming in, economic adviser, you yourself were invited but you ear not going to go. what should come out of is that, if you could, what would you
recommend to the president right now. what could be done for exports and infrastructure. but i would step back and say what we need to do is to increase people's confidence that their taxes are not going to go up. the reason the majority of americans are worried that their taxes are going to rise, despite the fact that the president has said he's not going to raise taxes on people earning less than $250,000. people see an enormous rise in government spending, particularly the health plan. if you really wanted to give people confidence that their incomes weren't going to be cut by higher taxes, then i think you would have to say let's put the health plan on hold.
until this economy recovered. >> "the wall street journal" editorial pages, making tremendous points, as you are in this case. besides health care, health care is going to be disastrous. why not undue some stuff, marty. for example, the expiration for the bush tax cuts including capital gains. why not take that off the table now. >> they don't have to take it off permanently. they can say in this economy, a weak economy is not the time to raise taxes. if we learn something from the experience of the 1930s, when it took us more than ten years of double-digit unemployment, one of the reasons we have that they compounded the problem by raising taxes again in 1936. so i think we want to say to
people, your taxes are not going up. we're going to postpone any of the scheduled taxes and we're not talking about an afghan tax and a v.a.t. tax and all of the other taxes that are currently being discussed. >> what about the hike of the minimum wage. a lot of people say the higher minimum wage has caused tremendous unemployment at the lower ends among teenagers and lower incomes. and another one, continuously extending unemployment benefits. this make mess sound very cruel, but i would argue there's a of smik research done if you extend unemployment benefits from six months to 18 months as they have done in washington, it creates more unemployment. and i categorize this as why don't we just undue some of these things. >> well, take the unemployment insurance you ear absolutely right about the incentive effects. tornado, you do sound cruel. now, i know, nobody would accuse you larry of being cruel. but it is true that one of the things that's actually helping
the economy is that there is this safety net there. yes, people are going to stay out longer. we're going to have a higher rate of unemployment. on the other hand, these people are going to have known put in their pockets so we don't have the kind of suffering and linings like we had in the 1930s. and we have people to go out and spend and keep aggregate demand in the economy. >> in short, you would say take higher taxes off the board, whether it's health care or the bush tax cuts or whatever. that would be one. what about spending cuts? what about the deficits an the borrowing, mar sni. >> well, of course, a lot of the increase in spending, that's the big program on the table. that was ten years or more. and that's going to end up being a big increase in borrowing.
as senator mccain said in this previous program, they're not out there organizing, trying to stop this legislation because they don't believe and i don't believe that in the end there will be those cuts in medicare. what the legislation, what the president is proposing is to take the trip call medicare recipient couple and take their benefits down by $25,000 over the next ten years. i don't think the political process will tolerate that. i think we'll end up with an underfunded entitlement program adding to the national debt. >> thanks for coming on the show. >> good being with you. good luck. >> thanks. coming up, ben bernanke's term is almost up.
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the cnbc's hampton pearson has all the detail details. >> too big to fail passed. 31 democrats in favor, 27 republicans against. the legislation gives the federal deposit insurance corporation the authority to dismantle systemically risky firms. there's also a provision creating a fund to cover the government's cost. fees from firms with more than $50 billion in assets could raise $150 billion. that bill could also merge the office of thrift supervision and the office of the controller of the currency. there's a provision for congressional audits of federal interest rate provisions. the house bill could be on the floor next week, says chairman barney frank, but it's moving much more slowly on the senate side with final passage months away. larry?
>> i still think big ben is going to get through, but the question begs, should bernanke, should bernanke have a second term at the fed. robert mctier, delta global strategist mike pinto and steve leesman. steve, before i even warm up on bernanke, bernie sanders is putting a hold on the bernanke nomination, what do you know about this? >> we have not been able to confirm this. but politico.com is reporting that bernie sanders put a hold on the nomination. i must caution viewers is the danger when a federal reserve reporter has to report about politics. i can tell you, i think they need 60 votes now to bring this
nomination to the floor. i believe the committee could still have the hearings but you need 60 society vovotes to come floor. ron paul, i guess, on the far right and bernie sanders from the far left both combining against bernanke. >> mike pinto, you would like to put a hold on bernanke's confirmation hearings? >> i really would. i think he should resign, larry. he doesn't care about the value of the u.s. dollar. he thinks as long as the value of the dollar declines in an orderly fashion, everything is hunky dorry. he doesn't care about the price of goel gold. all he cares about is the
unemployment rate. you look at the fed's beige book today. $1,220 an houns. it it's unbelievable. >> that indicates to you ultra easy money, devaluing -- wait, devaluing, debauching and declining the dollar. >> the value of gold never changes, just the currency you're measuring it in. and the dollar is losing its value. >> bernie sanders put a hold on the bernanke confirmation hearings. do you agree with mr. pinto? >> well, with enemies like that, you don't need friends, larry. of course i don't agree with him. he cares about those things that were enumerated. he believes that the value of the dollar is its purchasing power. and he's working to make sure that is sustained as much as to be as consistent with his conflicting obligations to worry
about full employment. >> mr. pinto is citing the rising price of gold and the falling exchange rate of the dollar, i also agree with him. the consumer price index has jumped up in the last three months. wasn't mr. bernanke responsible along with mr. greenspan for the original ultra easy excess money creating housing bubble. and energy and commodity bubble? in other words, i hear what you say we would like to believe in this institution. he's a very smart guy. but what's the evidence that we can rely on him if he gets another term. >> where we are today was not inevitable. it wasn't written anywhere. and i think we're lucky to have gotten through it as well as we did. and we owe a lot to his invasion and his integrity and his
ability. >> with all due respect, sir, we know who glenn stevens is, h he's taking rates to 3.75% and the australian stock market is surging. do we need a $2 trillion monetary base? should interest rates differentials have such a gap? should we suffer with negative real interest rates for as far as the eye can see. is that your evidence for a strong and stable dollar? >> i'm losing count here. the decline of the dollar does raise import prices. they're not the total, but they are part of it. if he could somehow explain that interest rates aren't total monetary policy, i do agree interest rates nudge up a little bit.
i would like to find a way to nudge them up to 1%, 1.5%. >> you yelled at me. i made this argument to you a month ago and you yelled at me. now you changed your view. >> i'm not saying tighten monetary policy overall. i'm just saying try to find a way to divorce rates. on the monetary base thing, i'm still very strongly of the opinion that if banks are leaving all those excess reserves in the banking system voluntarily, it would be a real mistake to jerk them back prematurely. it would happen just like it did in the depression. >> you want to ban this whole conversation i think. i want to get your take on bernanke. is he going to take terrific flak before the senate banking committee tomorrow? how bad is that going to be, steve?
>> yeah, i would make two comments on that. he's going to take flak and the fed has largely misjudged the political climate in washington, maybe now with the passage of the ron paul bill. it's sort of waking up to that. i think the interesting thing you have here from a market's perspective is, he will take a lot of flak, he will take a lot of criticism. tame, the thinking in washington is that he does get reappointed or does get approved by the senate, so the net point of that from a market standpoint is you have approved a weakened fed chairman. i think that has implications for the market. >> a politicized fed chairman, steve. there's a lot of people saying so much of what ben has done and what the fed has done institutionally, buying selected securities like mortgage backs and talf and all the rest, essentially allocating credit at below market rates, steve. people are saying these are political functions for fiscal policy and it goes way beyond
the fed's charter. is he going to take flak for that? >> he will. my personal belief is the fed did what it had to do. but it did find itself in the middle of what ended up to be a huge political firestorm that is now -- i mean, a little bit of revisionist history that goes on here, larry, that's worth speaking about. in rhett pekt suspect you think you didn't need to do it, but everyone needs to remember the frightful days of the september. >> we're going to continue this bernanke discussion and talk about the bank of america paying down all of its t.a.r.p. that's what, $45 billion some-odd dollars. that's a heck of a thing. and tiger woods finally takes my advice a couple days later. but was today's tiger mea culpa enough? we have all the latest on the tiger woods scandal. we have a special town hall
meeting "meeting of the minds -- rebuilding america." she gathers the biggest names to discuss solutions to america's manufacturing crisis. here's a taste when the topic turns to china. here it is. >> the biggest crime in this country is the fact that our r & d spending is pitfully low. it's just a fact. >> and guess who's spending money on r & d? china. >> if it was as simple as designed in the and manufactured in china, i would say let geese fix that. that's not what is going to happen. what it's going to be is designed in china and manufactured in china. starting now, i'm not going to blindly hope...
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>> it's important for the fed to get that back to a normal sized balance sheet in a reasonable time frame. >> that was st. louis federal reserve bank president james bullard today on cnbc. the monetary base has more than doubled. he is correct. and it is a sustained increase. i might add the monetary base
which is the fed's balance sheet and reflects the dollars that they are creating. it has actually grown by another $400 billion in the last, i don't know, 90 days, maybe 120 days. back to bernanke's confirmation. he deserves a second term. we have michael pinto and steve leesman. bullard is raising the bottom line point of dollar creation, which mr. pinto objects to, and i do, too, for a certain extent. the monetary base is too big, the balance sheet is too big. the federal reserve is creating money that the rest of the world doesn't want to hold. the implication is that's why the exchange rate is going down and the price of gold is going up. i don't hear that kind of clarity from any fed guys. is bernanke going in that direction.
>> i think the belief is that the fed chairman, as far as i can tell believes the biggest mistake we can make right now is to withdraw the liquidity too early. we have spoken several times about the history of the crises. he points back to japan and the question you have to ask yourself, larry, is the balance sheet too big for what? maybe it's to big to support the current level of the dollar. but it may not be too big to stave off a sharp recession. or too big to stave off a banking panic which is one of the reason whies it was allowed to grow.
>> you see the rise in gold, i always associate those two things with bad economic outkpoms i don't want to see gold go to $1,500 or $2,000. >> that means the stock market is rising in nominal terms only. >> give me a quickie for that. >> the stock market is rising only in nominal terms. the lower dollar is going to provide huge returns, what are you telling the chinese. everybody used to tell me that the home prices in this nation could never go down on a national level. but now they're saying the chinese will always have an appetite for our currency and treasury options. >> this is an honest question, let's take tomorrow's hearing, which i think is going to be very, very important.
it's going to be televised and this is mr. bernanke's spot. is he going to be able to explain? or do you even want him to explain the questions that everyone is asking about gold and the dollar and huge federal spending and huge federal borrowing and huge money creation? in other words, you can't -- it's like the elephant in the living room. $1,200 dollar. can bernanke explain that to people and why he doesn't want to take action? >> we, yes, he can explain it. he probably can't satisfy people and make them like it. >> do you think he will explain it? >> he does a pretty good job. sometimes he doesn't defend himself quite as much as he should. people tend to think, for example, that the fed is throwing fax payer money at things and that's not the case. the fed is going to send most of
its money back on its loans. >> but the potential is there for a serious inflation spike. >> potential is also there, larry, for the fed to act to withdraw which is all the noise they've been making. >> speaking about reverse repos. >> there's going to be a stock market correction when that occurs. >> that's a different story. >> michael pinto, thank you. steve leesman, thank you very much. coming up, tiger apologized today. but is he out of the woods. you're watching "the kudlow report."
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soon enough so the tabloids don't kill him. well, a couple days later, the cab loids are killing him, but he has issued a lengthy statement today and it may put it to rest. now with the latest details is our friend darren rovelle. >> approximately three hours after a voice mail allegedly left by tiger woods hit the tabloids this morning, he made a statement is a said --
>> spirit airlines has an eye of the tiger sale. if you don't think this relates to tiger, the front of the web scythe features a tiger driving a black car and crash into a high drabt. >> let's bring in mike paul, president of mgp and associates. >> i read the statement very carefully on his website. i think it's a good statement. i want to ask you if you think it's sufficient. >> i don't think it's a very good statement. the reason why i don't think it's very good is because it still leaves a lot of ifs and bhu buts. for example, he uses the words transgressions. that's not something that's complete. he should have been using the phrase to say look, i had inappropriate relations with other women while i was in my marriage and i apologize for doing so and it hurt my wife quite a bit and it hurt my
family. i have a lot of repair work to do. i would have turned to the attorney to say thanks for the first draft but this needs to be revised and let me ask a couple of questions. does that hurt him in the criminal court potentially, worst case scenario by saying that? the answer certainly is no. and does that hurt him in a civil court if he had to pay damages on anything? the answer is no. those are the only two measures you would have to go to with that to an attorney. >> mike, i want you to weigh in on this. has tiger fessed up. i think i was forgiven -- i was in a similar 1/10,000th as important as tiger woods, but years ago when the newspapers came after me, i fessed up. i got honest and it was a turning point in my life. i want to ask you, as a fan, as a writer, do you think that tiger has sufficiently come clean? >> i agree with everything mr. paul just said.
i would add as far as sponsors and golf fans are concerned, i don't think it's going to hurt tiger's income. tiger has to find a higher power. >> for his own personal life? >> for his own good and to keep him from repeating this mistake. to fault to his, he's been trained almost in robotic fashion, to do two things, play golf and make money since he was a kid. but he's got to learn there's more to that. >> if he were to have followed your advice, what would be happening right now on the blogs, on tmz. would they stop, would they be -- you know, just give up? or what would -- how much farther -- if he went that far, you know, what would happen with the social media, everything going on on the internet. >> well, the currency, and the worth of a second mistress coming out or finding out that
somebody on a plane versus someone having a voice mail would not have the same power it has. you take the air out of the balloon. it doesn't necessarily go away over night, but the focuses of messages will be tiger gets it. he's been repent tent. he's done the right thing. he's being humble. that's not happening right now. >> well, let me just say, mike, i regret these transgressions with all my heart. i have not been true to my values and the behavior my family despempbs i am not without fault. people know what he's talking about. i'm not going to require him in public to -- they shouldn't hav. you want to hear that. >> all right, i've got to leave it there, gentlemen. tiger woods, i think he took my advice and i'm glad of it. thank you. terrific stuff, coming back, my last word.
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but meanwhile, businesses are getting healthier. businesses are struggling but they seem to be improving and i think the financial markets are signalling better times ahead. in this holiday season, i am going to take the optimistic side. i'll be with you tomorrow morning on "the call." pothole:h no...your tire's all flat and junk. oh, did i do that? here, let me get my cellular out - call ya a wrecker. ...oh shoot...i got no phone ...cuz i'm a pothole...so....k, bye!
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